Suicide prevention service available to English, cultural communities

By Robert Frank

Laval might have the lowest suicide rate in the province of Quebec—about 40 per year—but that’s not enough for Geneviève Lefebvre. She wants to reduce that rate even further.

“Here in Laval, about a third or more of the counselors at CLSC Ruisseau-Papineau are bilingual, so it is not a problem to deliver services in English,” the head of the regional suicide prevention centre told The Suburban in an interview.

“There are many different cultures in that part of the city, including Greek, Arabic and Hindu communities, for example, so that facility sees the most people from other cultures in Laval.

Consequently, over the years the counsellors there also have become quite used to working hand-in-hand with interpreters.”

“We offer the same services we provide to the French-speaking community,” she explained. “If you know someone who might be suicidal—or are concerned you might be yourself—you can call the regional suicide resource line at [450] 627-2530 x 64922.”

The service operates weekdays 8 a.m.-8 p.m., and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekends.

Nip in the bud

“If someone is definitely suicidal and in immediate danger, they can always call the 24-hour-a-day, province-wide emergency help line 1-866-APPELLE (1- 866-277-3553) to get direct help,” Lefebvre added.

“Counselors can make a bid difference in those circumstances,” she said. “Whenever they get a call about someone who is highly suicidal, they deploy the appropriate resources from a crisis centre.”

“Here in Laval, there is a community organization sponsored by the health ministry that provides a residence where people can stay during the period when they are most fragile.”

“We know that prevention works,” she affirmed. “In 1999, there were 1,620 suicides a year in Quebec. By 2011, that figure had fallen to 1,079.”

“We also know what we need to do to drive down that figure,” Lefebvre continued. “We’re very proactive: Every time there is a suicide in Laval, we talk to the people who are grieving. We go and see their friends and their families. We visit their schools and their workplaces, because it’s important that we help address the grief associated with the loss of a loved one.”

Peer referral

Lefebvre is also enthused about a program called Project Sentinel that trains people in the workplace to be on the lookout for colleagues who might be at risk.

“If they see that someone is in distress, they know how to refer the person to us,” she said.

“It’s a big network: Every year we train staff in 32 workplaces in Laval. We take it very seriously.”

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